Tea Party Dispute Erupts Over Romney Appearance

The decision by a New Hampshire Tea Party group to invite Mitt Romney to give a speech on Labor Day has created a split in among Tea Party supporters:

A top tea party organizing group, FreedomWorks, is planning to protest Mitt Romney’s appearance this weekend at a New Hampshire stop of a bus tour intended to encourage tea party sympathizers to participate in the Republican presidential nominating process.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is among the leading candidates for the GOP presidential nomination but is viewed warily by tea party activists, who believe him to be insufficiently conservative and particularly blame him for the Massachusetts state health care overhaul he signed into law.

And Romney, for his part, hasn’t focused much energy on appealing to the movement. So it attracted considerable attention — both within the tea party and among the GOP operative class — when it was announced Tuesday that he intended to speak at a Sunday evening rally being staged by the Tea Party Express in Concord, N.H., as part of a cross country bus tour set to culminate in Tampa, Fla., ahead of a Sept. 12 GOP presidential debate co-sponsored by the Tea Party Express and CNN.

FreedomWorks, which had been participating in the Tea Party Express’s tour and had helped turn out activists at rallies during prior stops, decided it could no longer be affiliated with the tour, said Brendan Steinhauser, a lead organizer for FreedomWorks.

Instead, it began working with local New Hampshire tea party groups to organize a counter rally set for about the same time in the same park in Concord as Romney’s speech.

“We have to defend our brand against poseurs,” Steinhauser said.

On some level this reaction makes no sense to me. Romney is a top tier candidate for the Republican nomination for President, and he may well end up being the nominee at the end of all this. Tea Party Nation is a major national Tea Party group, as is FreedomWorks. Why wouldn’t it be a good thing for Romney to speak to the group? On some level, this doesn’t really bode well for a rapprochement between mainline Republicans and the Tea party if Romney is the nominee, or if he isn’t. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to hear Romney out ? It doesn’t mean you’re going to support him, just that you’re going to listen.

Yea, I know, I’m being naive.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, Tea Party, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. mantis says:

    The Tea Party doesn’t want to hear from anyone who does not ascribe to their ridiculously unrealistic and contradictory views. In fact, they would prefer that all such people simply not exist. There is no room for alternative views, no matter how slight the differences, from their own. If anyone even tries to express them, the Tea Party explodes with rage.

  2. legion says:

    “We have to defend our brand against poseurs,” Steinhauser said.

    Ummm… the Tea Party “brand” _is_ poseurs, Brendan.

  3. Terrye says:

    I am not sure how many Tea Party members these folks actually represent.

  4. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This sort of reminds me of the 2008 primary season, when the immigration wing nuts were demanding “ideological purity” on that issue; then they couldn’t agree among themselves whom to support. The irony was lost on them too.

    In any event, one saving grace is that after next year’s elections — regardless whether Obama prevails or is ousted — this “Tea Party” nonsense quickly will fade away. Fragmented and extreme political groups don’t last too long. When said groups are not actual political parties with separate ballot access their shelf lives are shorter even still.

  5. NH says:

    NO one in NH thinks FreedomWorks or TPE, another fake tea party group started by GOP Consultant Sal Russo, has any credibility as a tea party. After all the tea party started in dec 2007 and these fakes came along two years later in 2009…. FW was already in existence as CSE but then started up with the tea party nonsense. In any case, neither Romney nor Perry are tea party material so to speak.